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Abstract

Background: Because of changes in gut physiology, immune system reactivity, and diet, elderly people are more susceptible to gastrointestinal infections than are younger adults. The gut microflora, which provides a natural defense against invading microorganisms, changes in elderly people with the development of potentially damaging bacterial populations, which may lead to alterations in bacterial metabolism and higher levels of infection.

Methods: A randomized, double-blind, controlled feeding trial was done with 18 healthy elderly volunteers (age, >62 years) using a synbiotic comprising Bifidobacterium bifidum BB-02 and Bifidobacterium lactis BL-01 (probiotics) together with an inulin-based prebiotic (Synergy 1; Orafti). Real-time PCR was employed to quantitate total bifidobacteria, B. bifidum, and B. lactis in fecal DNA before, during, and after synbiotic consumption. Counting all viable anaerobes, bifidobacteria, and lactobacilli and identification of bacterial isolates to species level was also done.

Results: Throughout feeding, both bifidobacteria species were detected in fecal samples obtained from all subjects receiving the synbiotic, with significant increases in the number of copies of the 16S rRNA genes of B. bifidum, B. lactis, and total bifidobacteria, compared with the control week and the placebo group. At least 1 of these species remained detectable in fecal samples 3 weeks after feeding in individuals that had no fecal B. bifidum and/or B. lactis in the control week, indicating that the probiotics persisted in the volunteers. Counting of viable organisms showed significantly higher total numbers of fecal bifidobacteria, total numbers of lactobacilli, and numbers of B. bifidum during synbiotic feeding.

Conclusion: Synbiotic consumption increased the size and diversity of protective fecal bifidobacterial populations, which are often very much reduced in older people.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
BifidobacteriumIncreased Bifidobacterial Populations in FecesBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium animalisIncreased Bifidobacterial Populations in FecesBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium animalisIncreased Fecal LactobacilliBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium animalisIncreased Persistence of Probiotics in Fecal MatterBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium bifidumIncreased Bifidobacterial Populations in FecesBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium bifidumIncreased Persistence of Beneficial Bacterial SpeciesBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium bifidum Bb-02Increased Bifidobacterial Populations in FecesBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium bifidum Bb-02Increased Persistence of BifidobacteriaBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1Enhanced Bifidobacterial DiversityBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1Improved Gut Microbial PersistenceBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1Increased Bifidobacterial Populations in FecesBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1Increased Lactobacilli LevelsBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium bifidum/lactis Bb-02Improved Gut Microbial PersistenceBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium bifidum/lactis Bb-02Increased Bifidobacterial Populations in FecesBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium bifidum/lactis Bb-02Increased Lactobacilli PopulationsBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium bifidum SD-5857Increased Diversity of Fecal Bifidobacterial PopulationsBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium bifidum SD-5857Increased Fecal Bifidobacterial CountBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium bifidum SD-5857Increased Persistence of BifidobacteriaBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium bifidum VPro 51Improved Gut Microbial PersistenceBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium bifidum VPro 51Increased Bifidobacteria LevelsBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium bifidum VPro 51Increased Fecal LactobacilliBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium lactisIncreased Bifidobacterial PopulationsBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium lactisIncreased Persistence of Probiotics in Fecal MatterBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium lactis B420Increased Bifidobacterial Populations in FecesBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium lactis Bb-02Increased Protective Fecal BifidobacteriaBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium lactis Bb-02Sustained Bifidobacteria PopulationsBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium lactis BLA80Enhanced Diversity of Protective Bifidobacterial PopulationsBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium lactis BLA80Increased Fecal Bifidobacteria LevelsBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium lactis BLA80Increased Fecal LactobacilliBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium lactis BLA80Increased Persistence of Probiotics in Fecal MatterBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium lactis BLC-1Increased Bifidobacteria LevelsBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium lactis BLC-1Increased Bifidobacterium bifidum LevelsBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium lactis BLC-1Increased Persistence of Probiotics in Fecal MatterBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium lactis BLC-1Increased Protective Fecal BifidobacteriaBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium lactis BS01Improved Gut Microbial PersistenceBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium lactis BS01Increased Bifidobacteria LevelsBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium lactis DSM 15954Increased Bifidobacterial Populations in FecesBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium lactis DSM 15954Increased Fecal Lactobacilli LevelsBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium lactis DSM 15954Sustained Probiotic ColonizationBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium lactis HDS Bb-02Improved Gut Microbial PersistenceBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium lactis HDS Bb-02Increased Bifidobacterial Populations in FecesBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium lactis HN019Improved Bifidobacteria LevelsBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium lactis HN019Increased Bifidobacterium Persistence DurationBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium lactis HN019Increased Lactobacillus CountBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium lactis ISS BifImproved Gut Microbiota DiversityBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium lactis ISS BifIncreased Fecal Bifidobacteria LevelsBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium lactis ISS BifIncreased Persistence of Probiotics in Fecal MatterBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium lactis/longumIncreased Bifidobacterial Populations in FecesBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium lactis/longumIncreased Diversity of Fecal Bifidobacterial PopulationsBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium lactis/longumIncreased Fecal Bifidobacteria LevelsBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium lactis/longumIncreased Persistence of Probiotics in Fecal MatterBeneficial
Moderate
Bifidobacterium lactis R101-8Increased Fecal Bifidobacteria LevelsBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium lactis R101-8Increased Fecal LactobacilliBeneficial
Large
Bifidobacterium lactis R101-8Increased Microbial DiversityBeneficial
Moderate
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